Thursday, January 24, 2019

Anonymous Corrections


An anonymous source within STRIDE contacted me early this morning to correct the record about strategy development. The source, who goes by the pseudonym “Sally” provided information that leads me to have high confidence in what I’m told.

First, the description of the Hope Chart on January 11 is fundamentally flawed. The chart depicts projected consumption of ecological resources and changes in available resources over time due to nonhuman (“external”) causes, most being self-sustaining natural feedbacks that affect global warming. According to Sally, crashing of our population is triggered when lessthan the amount of available resources is consumed, and speed of the crash is typically faster than the remaining drop in resources. The exact triggers and the crash trajectories are dependent on the conditions driving consumption such as societal regulation of population and how much people can each consume. Sally provided an example based on the baseline strategy showing the consumption trajectory based on the baseline strategy and the mid-projection of external resource reduction if there is no modification of that reduction due to dropping consumption (such as enhanced absorption of carbon from the atmosphere and oceans).    

Second, it is misleading to describe the threat assessment as what was reported in the Global Emergency declaration. Sally emphasized that the threat, like the proposed responses, is intimately dependent on actions actually taken by people, members of other species, and non-living physical processes. “What people and other living creatures do is based on what they know and what they expect as well as their capabilities. Specifically, what a significant number of people know is significantly shaped by the information provided by their leaders with regard to the extinction threat. That information did not weight the worst-case possibilities enough to force an appropriate response. The worst of those possibilities, defined as the fastest-acting and most fatal of them, must be the basis of the response so the amount of time until extinction is maximized. A proper assessment would include that worst case, which projects business-as-usual extinction in 2033 instead of 2038.” 

Sally provided an example of the Hope Chart with a new worst-case for external resource reduction, which favored letting older people die without replacement and letting per-capita consumption decrease until 2040. There was still a possibility of opening resources for other species and avoiding extinction at least until the end of the century, but if that failed then humanity would be extinct by 2043.

Reality Check

The graphs are from the simulation, with a new projection (“Max.”) for the worst case in the last two graphs. Sally’s points likewise derive directly from the simulation; and illustrate the difference between what presenters and experts consider a meaningful amount of detail.

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